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FENIAN AND OTHER RAIDS   243

informed of every move of the enemy, and had ample leisure to prepare a warm reception. Early in April, some 5,000 men were called out for service along the Quebec frontier and stationed at Frelighsburg, Hunting-don, and Beauharnois, while a portion of the force was held in reserve at Montreal. On April 12th, further troops were called out to guard the western frontier at Sarnia and Windsor. The Fenians made no move, however, and before the end of the month all the troops were withdrawn.

Finally, the 24th of May was decided upon in the Fenian councils as the day for the great adventure, and the Eastern Townships were to be the scene of the first attack. O'Neil made his headquarters at Franklin, Vermont, where several thousand men had been directed to concentrate on that day. The Fenian general waited impatiently until the morning of the 25th, but at that time only 800 men had reported. The United States Government had now become fully aware of the Fenian plans, and on the 24th President Grant had issued a proclamation forbidding any breach of neutrality. O'Neil knew that to wait any longer would invite certain disaster, as he would be caught between Canadian troops on one side and those of the United States on the other. General Foster, on behalf of the United States Government, had already warned him that he would be held responsible for any infraction of the law. He therefore determined to lead what men he had across the border, and endeavour to establish himself on Canadian soil until reinforcements could be sent over.

Just across the boundary was a strong natural position known as Eccles Hill. This had been occupied on the night of the 24th by some thirty Canadian farmers organized as a Home Guard. This gallant little band of sharp-shooters were determined to hold the Fenians in check until relieved by the militia. Had the Fenians carried out their original plan, and crossed the boundary on the 24th, they would have found none to oppose them


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